We belong to a very small subset of the population. We live on one income, we have more than two children (in fact, at last count, there were five), we homeschool, and two of our children have disabilities. Those last two facts are the ones about which I receive the most questions. People around here have grown accustomed to seeing school-aged children at the bank and the grocery store during school hours. “We’re studying Economics!” we beam when queried at the bank. “Home Ec!” we cry as we amble the aisles in the grocery store, hunting and gathering sustenance for our little tribe. What seems so foreign to many people’s way of thinking is that we educate our disabled children at home.
A question that arises frequently is, “Can you do that?” Since the setting is usually public and impromptu, I give the short answer, “By God’s grace.” If it has been a particularly trying day, I might say, “Check back with me in fifteen years and I’ll let you know.” I will now give the long answer.
If by “Can you do that?” you mean, “Can you do that?” I would say yes, I can. In other words, I am able. To be frank, I do not always feel able. I rely heavily upon the Truth in God’s Word, which assures me that He is working in and through our situation for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. That Truth can seem very vague and far away when I am trying to get an appointment with a new specialist who might or might not take our health insurance, but the wonderful thing about Truth is that it is sure no matter my perspective, distance, or state of mind. God planned our family from before the foundation of the Earth—disabilities, home education, and all. I can do it. My Father will see to it.
Perhaps some people are really asking, “Can you do that?” I do not have an advanced degree. I am not a physical, occupational, speech, or respiratory therapist. I do not even fit orthotics. Is it possible to have negative practical training for a job? If so, that’s where my qualifications lie—less than zero. For example, prior to endeavoring to disciple my disabled children at home, the most complicated thing I had ever done was march and twirl a large, silk flag while keeping time to “Eye of the Tiger.” But again, my answer is “yes.” I can read, I can think, and I can pray. I also thank the Lord for the invention of the Internet at this precise time in history so that I can have a world of information at my fingertips. I have purposed to bring the very best I have to bear upon this task. God, who began this good work, has promised to make up the difference between what I have and what is required for the job. His provision is perfect.
The question most people seem to be asking, however, is “Can you do that?” which I take to mean, in practical terms, is it possible to educate a child with a disability at home? My reply to that is, not only is it possible, it is necessary. I will admit my bias here and tell you that I believe that all children would be best served in a one-on-one tutoring environment, and that the most effective way to impart biblical values and understanding is to spend the majority of our waking hours with our children, seizing every opportunity to train them to view their experiences through the lens of rightly-applied Scripture. It seems to me that children with disabilities are ideal candidates for all of the benefits home education has to offer and the way to make sure they are getting the best education possible while having their special needs appropriately and consistently met is to homeschool.
This brings me back to my original, short answer to the original question:
“By God’s grace, I can!”